It was a big night for the comedian turned talk show host. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on Monday night Ellen DeGeneres was presented with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, one of our countries top honors for those that make significant contributions to American comedy. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood showed up to share this special night including fellow talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who good-humoredly joked about Ellen’s penchant for wearing vest, as well as Jane Lynch and Sean Hayes. It’s been a long and successful ride to the top for DeGeneres who started out in stand-up comedy in the late 70’s.By 1981 she was able to move out of the small clubs and coffee shops when she became the emcee at Clyde’s Comedy club in New Orleans. One year later she was named Showtime’s Funniest Person in America and began touring around the country. DeGeneres made the transition from the stage to the small screen in 1994 when her comedy routine became the basis for the hit sitcom Ellen. Often referred to as the female Seinfeld, people were immediately taken with DeGeneres’ observational humor. The show reached its rating peak after Ellen came out about her homosexuality to Oprah Winfrey in 1997. From ‘Ellen’ to ‘The Ellen Show’ DeGeneres once again found success as a day time talk show host in 2003. Her popular day time series was nominated for 11 Emmys in its first season and has gone on to win 25 Emmy Awards. Ellen stepped out of her day time role to act as Paula Abdul’s replacement as judge on the talent show American Idol in 2009 but after one season decided to part ways with the series saying that it “didn’t feel like the right fit for me.” It’s not all work for the comedian, she has been lucky in love as well. Ellen has been in a relationship with actress Portia de Rossi since 2004 and the two were married at their home in 2008.